Five Tips To Help You Respond To A Negative Review

negative reviews

Keep Your Cool and Your Customers With These Helpful Suggestions

The dreaded empty star. A negative review of your business can elicit a wide range of responses, from frustration and disappointment to worries about prospective client perception. As you read, your mind drifts between crucial conversations with your employees and monthly training initiatives. What is the best response? Is there a delete key?

Consumer review sources are more prominent than ever before, thanks to the constant rise in social media usage and mobile connectivity. At one point in time, business ratings were vastly communicated by word-of-mouth or through print materials, like newspaper and magazines. Today’s consumers have additional options, including mobile apps and online review sites that can be accessed with the simple swipe of a screen.

As a business owner, you have the ability to eclipse the glare of a bad review and improve public opinion by launching a carefully-planned, professional response. Let’s explore five tips for creating powerful responses to negative reviews:

1. Service With a Smile

Be nice. Drip honey from your fingers when you type. A negative review might upset you, but look past your emotions and focus instead on what your business could have done better.

Avoid phrases like, “find that highly unlikely,” or “perhaps if you had,” and give the customer the benefit of the doubt. They may not always be right, but your customers are the driving force behind the business’s success or failure.

Communicate a desire for improvement and an appreciation for assisting in the identification of weak areas.  Write kindly, spellcheck your responses, and keep a positive end result in mind.

2. Try, Try Again

The goal of every response is customer retention and service recovery. Mistakes happen, services are occasionally botched, and accounts can be mishandled. Approach every negative review with a “we can fix this” attitude. Create responses indicative of constructive development within your organization, due in part to customer suggestions.

Instead of offering a standard compensation package, ask reviewers what can be done to earn them back as customers. Some reviewers won’t take the bait and others may try to take too much, but the effort alone will increase the chances of retaining your client base.

3. Acknowledge All

Respond to all reviews whether they have positive or negative feedback. Both types of reviews are written by people willing to take time out of their day to say something about your business. Read the reviews, respond promptly, and be sure you are genuine. A scripted response is easily-identifiable. When individual responses aren’t feasible, try creating a rotating response list. Script five to ten responses for positive reviews and use them in a varying, random order. Writing not your forte? Consider hiring a freelancer to co-pilot your online presence.

4. Redefine Your Reflection

Reviewers paint a picture of your business. Adjust your image with responses that highlight key differentiating elements within your organization. When someone points out higher prices, for example, shift reader attention to product quality and the opportunity to save money down the road through improved long-term results.

Capitalize on the opportunity to supplement your marketing efforts by accentuating the positive elements of your business and being transparent in your reasoning.

5. Shared Experience

Eliminate an “us versus them” attitude by using “we” at every opportunity. Collaboration and unity are rare customer service qualities every customer is eager to find. Volunteer your direct phone number or email. Sometimes a simple “we’re sorry” is all a customer really needs, though others may require a longer conversation.


From a consumer perspective, nothing is better than knowing a single, reliable source on the inside.

The next time you find yourself staring at an empty star, engage these response methods. Chances are potential clients will be pleased by your commitment to excellence and dedication to service recovery. With the right amount of poise and professionalism, you can conquer the invasive power of negative reviews and send your customer service rating soaring back into the sky.


Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Jennifer Ludwigsen is a freelance writer with a colorful variety of skills gained from her time as a U.S. Army medic, mother of two, and ingenious life-lesson learner. She currently works for the largest medical group in Illinois in multiple administrative capacities, serving both the executive team and the vast practitioner and patient population. Jennifer has leveraged technology in multiple facets of her life to enhance her corporate day job, evening parenting job, and late-evening freelancing job. Connect with Jennifer on TwitterLinkedIn, and her website, Concentrated Creativity.